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tv   Deadline White House  MSNBC  June 9, 2017 1:00pm-2:01pm PDT

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bush 43 white house. can't thank you enough for this analysis. as we thank our other guests here in the studio. katy tur and former new york member of congress, elizabeth holtsman, notably formerly a member of the house judiciary committee during the watergate years. knowledge and experience. she's already had ample opportunity today to call back and talk about on the air. the 4:00 hour has arrived. and around here, that means it is time for nicolle wallace and her broadcast, "deadline white house." nicolle, you thought it was going to be maybe an easy skate on a friday afternoon, early june. not so. >> i thought we earned it after our eight-hour marathon yesterday. i thought we earned a sleepy friday, but apparently we didn't. another friday and another bombshell development in this k ongoing extravaganza for those in our business. >> good luck with that.
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the next hour is yours. >> thank you. so if it's friday and it's june, it's another bombshell as we were just saying in the ongoing smack down between this president and his now ousted fbi director in one of the most memorable exchanges in a rose garden press secretary in recent history. john carl pressed the president on the question of whether he would testify before special counsel bob mueller. here it is. >> we get back to james comey's testimony, you suggested he didn't tell the truth in everything he said. he did say under oath that you told him to let the flynn -- you said you hoped the flynn investigation, you could -- >> i didn't say that. >> so he lied about that? >> well, i didn't say that. i mean, i will tell you, i didn't say that. >> and did he ask you to pledge -- >> and there'd be nothing wrong if i did say it according to everybody that i've read today, but i did not say that. >> did he ask for a pledge of loyalty from you? that's another thing he said. >> no, he did not. >> so he said those things under oath. would you be willing to speak
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under oath to give your version of those events? >> 100%. i didn't say under oath. i hardly know the man. i'm not going to say i want you to pledge allegiance. who would do that? who would ask a man to pledge allegiance under oath? i mean, think of it. i hardly know the man. it doesn't make sense. no, i departmeidn't say that an say the other. >> if robert mueller wanted to speak to you -- >> i'd be glad to tell him what about exactly what i just -- >> you seem to be hinting there are recordings of the conversations. >> i'm not hinting anything. i'll tell you about it in a short period of time. okay. do you have a question? >> when will you tell us? >> fairly short period of time. >> like tomorrow, now? are there tapes, sir? >> you're going to be very disappointed when you hear the answer. don't worry. >> and it's deja vu all over again. the president saying he'll let us know the answer to a politically pressing crisis later. i have to get right to my reporters on this one. kristen welker at the white house and "washington post" white house bureau chief phillip
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rucker. kristen, you were there, what did we just witness? >> reporter: it was striking. on the one hand, nicolle, me expee we expected him to be defiant after we woke up to the tweet this morning, he effectively called james comey a liar but also said he vindicated him and he called him a leaker. we heard him reiterate that during his press conference and that exchange with john carl in which he denied those allegations by james comey that he asked for a loyalty pledge. that the president pressed him to drop the investigation into mike flynn but the fact that he continues to dangle whether or not there are actually tapes, that is the most striking part about all of this. if he wants to prove james comey wrong, then the question is, why not release those tapes which presumably would back up his case? he still hasn't done it. still hasn't corroborated that there actually are tapes and a lot of people think if there were tapes and he wanted to prove james comey wrong, he would have released them by now. clearly this fits into his reality tv persona.
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he is building the drama, he says we're going to get an answer soon. we'll have to wait to see if that happens. >> kristen, du he seem to have awareness of the history and now loaded this idea of tapes in the oval office is? do you have any sense that any of them are students of past political scandals ands understand in the context of watergate, dangling the word, "tapes," out there, is so loaded? are. >> reporter: well, there's no doubt about that. i think he's aware of that and hi staffers are aware of that behind the scenes at the white house. i think this speaks to a broader issue here, nicolle, broader divide about messaging. president usually takes to twitter. yesterday his staff, legal counsel, urged him to stay off social media and he did. we talked about this throughout the day, the fact he showed remarkable message discipline, the fact it was his outside counsel, marc kasowitz, who did the talking for him and his surrogates on the airwaves this morning then today, of course,
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president trump went back to what we expect from him which is he went on twitter then he was very defiant in the rose garden. of course, the concern for a number of his advisers is it's his tweets that are going to undermine him legally. whether it be in this instance with the are russia probe, or whether we're talking about the travel ban. which, of course, is held up in court. so this is an ongoing, i think challenge for this administration in terms of messaging, nicolle. that's the broader issue at play here. >> i heard from a source very close to the president that he was very uplifted, that he saw enough, he was able to cherry pick enough things that weren't catastrophic for himself out of the testimony yesterday. mostly in the vain of the fact he's not the looking out for the big picture, he's mostly worried about his personal legal equit equities and on that front he felt, i guess the word he used was vindicated. i'm not sure that anyone rational could go that far, but that he felt sort of like he was getting his mojo back today and i think that that's what we saw in the rose garden but i want to ask you, you know, i've been on
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a prewedding diet and when you restrain or sort of, you know, you go without something then suddenly get if front of the reporters you hadn't been indulging with your tweets and own sort of world view, you binge and he seemed to be bingeing in the rose garden on pure unfiltered trump. >> yeah. that's exactly right fop a. and by the way, my sources are telling me the same thing you heard how he felt uplifted and vindicated by comey's testimony yesterday but the problem for donald trump for president trump right now is it's his word against comey's word and with comey, you have the former fbi director who took contemporaneous notes and said under oath that certain things happened. he quoted dialogue. he had specific examples and with president trump, you have these plflat blanket denials bua long history of falsehoods and misstatements. i would like to ask him why he thinks the american people should trust his version of events over the version that comey delivered under oath. >> well, phillip, so let me
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just -- this is like my lifelong fantasy, let me play the person at your paper who gets to decide where the stories go tomorrow and how big the headlines are. i'm guessing trump agrees to testify, right, that's the biggest print, right? >> 100%. >> he also did what he wouldn't and couldn't do at nato, he agreed to participate as an ally that abides by article 5 to defend our allies. he also walked into the rose garden with the message about the middle east. so, tell me what you think was happening behind the scenes with everything that came out of the president's mouth and how your paper's going to deal with it tonight and tomorrow morning? >> well, i think people behind me here in our newsroom are trying to figure out how to deal with all this. >> probably want you off tv so you can help them i'm guessing. >> exactly. look, the big news as far as we're concerned from a political context, i think, is trump and agreeing to testify under oath 100%. and that he would provide his version of events if he's asked by mueller. that's a new development and a big development, but the situation in the middle east is
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really striking, particularly because secretary of state tillerson just an hour ar two before trump came out into the rose garden gave a different type of message about qatar and basically called on saudi arabia and the other gulf states to ease up the pressure on qatar then we saw from president trump a really sort of strong, forceful attack almost on qatar and on financing of terrorism. so i don't know if they're necessarily instinync. we want to do reporting on that to figure that out. that was striking. obviously the article 5 piece from nato was a big deal. it's something he deliberately decided not to say in brussels at the nato headquarters a few weeks ago. i was there on that trip. now he's saying really for the first time affirming the united states would adhere to article 5 and defend romania in a hypothetical situation. >> just because we spent so much time on this show talking about what a diss it was for our nato allies, i want to play that moment again for everyone.
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>> well, i'm committing the united states and have committed but i'm committing the united states to article 5 and certainly we are there to protect and that's one of the reasons that i want people to make sure we have a very, very strong force by paying the kind of money necessary to have that force. but, yes, absolutely, i'd be committed to article 5. >> now, kristen, what was stunning to me, you traveled with this president for nine days and never got to ask him the number of questions the romanian press got to ask the romanian leader today in american president's garden. this came out in response to a question from a romanian journalist. those of you who traveled with him for nine days never heard this,s neither die the nad the allies when they wanted to hear it at the nato summit. >> reporter: we learned after the fact there was language in his speech at nato which effectively would have are done
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what he did today which is make a very bold statement that the united states is committed to article 5. that an attack against one is an attack against all. the nato allies wanteddisappoin. they were frustrated in the wake of it because of that in part, nicolle. it is striking he gave that response today. it could be because of the backlash he's gotten in the wake of it. remember, he's really pressing these countries to pay their 2% of their gdp to defense. that is his big ask of them. so it's possible that's why we've also seen this subtle shift in his language. to your point, nicolle, about how many questions the romainia press got today, american press got as compared to that trip, it was really striking. three romanian reporters got to ask a question. we were hoping we'd have one more. i do think to your initial point about the fact that this was a donald trump who was sort of bingeing on the press,s all of us were raising our hands. this didn't necessarily fit into a typical press conference type
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of feeling for that reason. everyone very aggressive about trying to get a question today. and obviously, as you point out, the romanians got three of them. >> phillip, let me squeeze in one last short one to you about the president's personal counsel who didn't respond just yet as far as i know to the president's promise now to testify under oath in the special counsel investigation. >> yeah. >> but he is still fighting and it's real street fighter style, right? it's a real street fight now with comey. i described it earlier as character assassination. that the president and his political surrogates are engaged in against jim comey. how is comey fighting back at this hour? >> well, comey i think is letting his testimony from yesterday stand. we'll have to see if he's going to, you know, get into a tit for tat. i expect not. there hay be another instance where we hear more from comey. you're exactly right about the sort of combative approach of marc kasowitz, the president's personal lawyer. he's a new york lawyer. he most recently represented bill o'reilly in the sexual assault allegations at fox news.
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and the president likes that style and it's frankly one of the reasons why according to our reporting, why the president stayed off twitter yesterday because he was convinced that kas ska s owizt in his statement yesterday would be as aggressive, combative, go for the jugular as trump would is been if he was defending himself. >> thank you so much for spending time with us in a time i know is businessy for both of you. >> thank withdrew. >> we're going to take a quick break. when we come back, despite the president saying he feels vindicated after comey's testimony, does the former fbi director actually lay out a case for obstruction of justice? plus, new signs that his testimony may have triggered more trouble for mike flynn and attorney general jeff sessions. especially after that closed-door hearing. >> no collusion. no obstruction. he's a leaker, but we want to get back to running our great country. we were very, very happy and,
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frankly, james comey confirmed a lot of what i said. and some of the things that he said just weren't true. phone with our allstate agent, and i know that we have accident forgiveness. so the incredibly minor accident that i had tonight- four weeks without the car. okay, yup. good night. with accident forgiveness your rates won't go up just because of an accident. switching to allstate is worth it. ♪ ♪ welcome to holiday inn! ♪ ♪
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call today. comcast business. built for business. hi, everyone. joining the panel toast, host of msnbc's "politics nation" and president of the national action network, reverend al sharpton, my friday date, along with amy holmes, political analyst for rasmussen reports. "the new york times" columnist roger cohen, previously the paper's foreign editor with a wonderful column, wonderful piece out today. joining us from washington, carrie, former senior general
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counsel for the dni. now an adjunct professor at jrn georgetown. your piece put this idea in my head, the age old fight of the two least deadly sins in washington, leaking and lying and i wonder if the context of what the president just said, i mean, he basically -- he didn't basically, he called jim comey a liar and basically cast aspersion and doubt on a lot of the testimony that former fbi director jim comey gave yesterday under oath. >> yeah, he essentially, nicolle, accused jim comey of perjury. he didn't use that word. >> but that's what it is. >> but that's what it is. and if he feel feels, if the president feels he was vindicated by what jim comey said yesterday,s s i don't kno what reality he's living in. i asked myself many times since he took office what reality he's live in. that's not necessarily new. nevertheless, anyone watching jim comey saw a straight-shooting, upstanding patriot who believes deeply in the independence of the fbi, in
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the rule of law and the constitution and he laid out a pretty straightforward case. the president tried to get his loyalty by which he meant his subservients then he asked him to hold off the investigation into the former national security adviser, mike flynn, and then he asked him to say publicly that the president was not under investigation. and when comey rightly, in my view, refused to say -- do these things, he fired him. so that's -- that's pretty clear. >> that's where we are. >> he was trying to -- the president wases trying to interfere in an independent fbi investigation. >> so you think there's a clear obstruction of justice case? >> i think there's -- i'll leave it up to the lawyers to say whether this rises to obstruction of justice. we'll have to wait, i suspect, of what mr. mueller, the special counsel, comes out with in his
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investigation. if mueller sees grounds for indictment, i think the pressure will rise for impeachment proceedings. >> amy, do you see any danger for republicans who are seen to be doing this president's bidding? by that, i mean i thought by in large the sbenate intel committe did the job they were there to do but there were very clearly politically motivated lines of questioning and the white house in private is pointing to a question that marco rubio asked jim comey about why of all the things he wrote about the only one that didn't leak was the idea that donald trump had been assured that he wasn't personally under investigation at the time. so the white house obviously making some inroads in getting some of the republican members of the senate intel committee to do some of their business up there. do you think there's any danger for those members? >> i think there's a danger if they don't ask james comey tough questions because, of course, they have a constituency and a
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base that wants to see that and certainly in the pursuit of trying to get to a bottom of a lot of these allegations. i read, actually, that the senate intel committee did not take talking points from the rnc. that they devised their own questions and i can certainly understand -- >> did you sigh whee what the r out yesterday? you know. >> i can certainly understand the president and president's supporters being frustrated that the one most salient fact for the president that he was not under investigation was the one th thing that didn't get out in the public and the same fbi director if you remember last summer had a huge press conference about hillary clinton and e-mail e scandal. president trump is saying, wait a minute, you're willing to talk about that, willing to suggest it shouldn't have prosecuted, the case about me where i'm not under investigation, that's a big secret. >> would you disagree -- i think the fact that the president had so many contacts with jim comey, at least two face-to-face and i think at least four to six phone conversations and never russia'
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meddle in our election, is a bad fact when your orbit is being investigated for potential collusion with said adversary, russia. >> what we understand is james comey and the current fbi acting director said there's been no interference in the russia investigation from trump administration. and when it comes to leaking that memo to his friend, to "the new york times," that's not even clear that james comey had authority to do that. he may have been violating the fbi's own employment contract. >> i'm not aware of anything that prevents a private citizen who's out of work for the government from sharing -- >> i can read it to you right here. >> i don't think it was classified information. rev, do you think that this effort -- i mean, assassinating the character of jim comey whose entire career was spent making republicans he worked for mad and democrats he worked for mad, going after his character as a guy who has a well-documented pattern of lying over his
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entire -- and granted he wasn't in politics before. maybe it's cool to lie as a real estate guy, but the fact that donald trump is trying to assassinate the character of jim comey and thinks that's a fight he's going to win is, to me, a pretty audacious development. >> it's audacious and it was something that i watched overnight. he and kasowitz, his attorney. i thought about overnight. but he just upped the ante with what he said today. you know, a wise old minister used to tell me a fish wouldn't get caught if he kept his mouth shut. what we said today might catch him. one, to say that he is willing to be interviewed under oath, and second, the tapes. because i think what he's forgetting is, as comey laid out that he was in the oval office and others were asked to leave, well, mueller not only can go and say is there tape? fine, no tape. mr. sessions, were you asked to leave? mr. kushner, were you asked to
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leave? if everyone in that room says, under oath, yes, i was asked to leave, now mr. trump, why did they have to leave, what did you want to talk about? this adds to the whole reason why people would believe comey over trump. isn't it interesting, nicolle, we haven't heard one of the people who was named to have been in the room and asked to leave, came out overnight and said i never was asked -- >> they're all on yelp looking for lawyers or we have a lawyer with us. carrie, can you explain to us when a president agrees to testify in a special counsel probe, what happens next? >> well, so, in addition to the president offering to testify, we've seen various reports of various individuals, white house officials, who are offering to testify, whether to congress, or to the special counsel. and i think what's important to keep in mind is that people will
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testify to either of those bodies, whether it's the special counsel or whether it's the senate intelligence committee. when those investigative bodies are ready to hear their testimony. in other words, it's not up to the individual witness to say, i'd like to come talk to you now. it's when the investigation has reached a point that it's useful to the investigator to hear what that potential witness has to say. >> carrie, let me ask you, amy pozits there may be a potential time james comey -- hold on, let me get to carrie, let carrie weigh in. what possible exposure does jim comey have if the white house decides to pursue him as aggressively as the president's personal counsel, marc kasowitz, simply suggested they will in terms of -- this is a president that maligned him in front of russian foreign minister sergey lavrov and sergey kislyak, two
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russians banished from president obama's oval office. had them in the oval office and said i had pressure relieved because i fired the crazy nutjob, jim comey. what could jim comey have possibly done wrong in the eyes of the law by telling his side of the story and by explaining simply what he had written down in nonclassified memos about his interactions we know now troubled him from before the president was inaugurated? >> in these allegations, there is really a conflation between leaking of information that happens frequently in washington and government where unclassified nonprotected information is provided to the media, perhaps in an anonymous way, to get information out and that's very different and completely different in the legal realm from leaking classified information. and i have heard in the last several days no credible allegation that former director
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comey leaked any classified information that would be protected information that would involve any type of illegality. >> and we just saw the president leave for his golf course in bedminster, new jersey, where we understand he's going to spend the weekend. to your point, the president definitely has surrogates in the awkward position, i'm sure are familiar with speaking out of both sides of their mouth. i was on the "today" show with corey lewandowski, said this is the most open president ever then in the next instant called jim combny a leaker. we're going to get back to your piece on the other side of the break because some of this is the matter of the eye of the beholder. one man's open leader is another man's leaker. we're going to squeeze in a quick break. no one's going anywhere. we'll be right back with more questions about whether an obstruction of justice case can be pieced together based on this week's events against the president. over hereno!ver here! (dog barking)
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i took it as a direction. president of the united states with me, alone, saying i hope this, i took it as this is what he wants me to do. i didn't obey that. that's the way i took it. >> fired fbi director james comey says he felt trump directed him to let the investigation into michael flynn go. a lapse of judgment, maybe, an abuse of power, perhaps. but did trump obstruct justice? it's a question dividing legal experts and politicians alike. president trump retweeting harvard law professor alan dershowitz today who says trump did not cross the line. joining me now, charlie savage who wrote about the question of obstruction of justice in "the new york times" today. he's the president aper's natio security and legal reporter. i've been in an oval office with a president who asked me to do things, not something that crossed any lines in my view. there was never any ambiguity,
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if you were a president, you were his staff and he sits atop the chain of command, in every sense, that you were to go do it. so why is there a dispute in the legal context about whether that would constitute obstruction of justice? >> well, there's a couple things that are in dispute that answer that question. first, of course, trump through his lawyer is denying he said those words at all. so if he didn't say, you know, i wish this case goes away or whatever the phrase was, that's in dispute and then the second layer of that is how do we interpret that? comey says i interpreted that as the president ordering me to kill the case against michael flynn and trump and his supporters saying even if did s say these words, that's not what he meant, if he wanted to give an order, he would is given an order. there's a sense of am bbiguity about the facts, if you believe comey is telling the truth and trump is lying about what he
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actually said. on top of that, there are certain problems with bringing in obstruction of justice case against a president. i talked to a number of white collar criminal law specialists, former prosecutors, who now teach at various law schools and so forth about this yesterday. and they all said if this was a mayor or a businessman, this would be a case that a u.s. attorney's office would definitely consider bringing based on the facts as we have them now with comey's recollection. even if the defendant disagrees about what he said. but going against a president raises all kinds of additional problems. there's a -- the justices department does not think that a president can be indicted while he remains in office. so, that takes you immediately to the case of, well, is he going to be impeached first or do we have to wait until 2021 if he loses re-election in 2020 before bringing in case? and on top of that, there's no precedent for prosecuting a president for ordering a
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subordinate to close a case for improper reasons. maybe we would have gotten to something like that with nixon, but ford pardoned nixon so there's just no guiding light to look to in the very heavy constitutional issues are raised by a president of the united states who oversees the even forceme enforcement of the law directing a selective change in an investigative strategy for reasons to appear to be improper. >> charlie, let me quickly get you to weigh in on the breaking news that the president agreed to testify under oath for bob mueller who's running the special -- who's the new special counsel in the investigation into possible ties between the president's campaign and orbit and russia? >> yep. very interesting. trump says this when asked at the press conference today. i wonder if his personal lawyer knew that he was going to say that or was happy to hear him say that. >> i mean, i -- >> i wonder if -- >> i know you don't like to -- what's your sense from covering the president and his personal lawyer so far?
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what's your sense? do you think this was a play that kasowitz lit, is this part of their brand of legal street fighting? >> my sense of covering this president and his lawyers is i have a great deal of sympathy for his lawyer who seems to be an extraordinarily difficult client who's constantly saying and doing things that are ill advised from a legal perspective. and i don't know whether his lawyer told him, gave him the green light here, but i can imagine his lawyer watching that press conference and cringing. >> amy holmes, you nodded your head a little bit but it was sort of the sympathy that you feel when you're a press person and work for a politician or client that doesn't take your advice. do you think this was a play the president planned to run or do you think there was a different message of the day planned for this white house today? >> oh, goodness, i can't speculate. i don't know. i can't get into donald trump's mind or heart here. we know he shoots from the hip. we do know he likes to make news and do know he doesn't necessarily take legal advice or listen to it and that's what led him to the special counsel.
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we heard in the testimony yesterday that mr. comey said because of donald trump's tweet, that is why i released this memo to put it in the public sphere, in order to trigger a special counsel. so, i can't imagine that any of mr. trump's legal advisers are sitting easily today. >> i mean, is he crazy or is he crazy like a fox? >> i mean, you know, i've dealt with donald trump for 35 years. >> i know. >> mostly fighting him. and one of the things -- that's why i think the danger that attorney kasowitz has representing him is -- >> marc kasowitz. >> -- to let him talk under oath because if you push certain buttons, he's so combative, he will say things that i don't think they thought he was going to say that today. if you have him under interrogation, the bragdosia, street fight comes out of him. he may go anywhere and really, really hurt his case if he's under oath. >> a flend riend of the preside today told me he doesn't care at all about being called a liar.
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you wrote about -- >> perhaps because he is. >> well, what is the consequence, though, both for our politics and for the legal pursuit of something resembling the truth in terms of russia's role in our election? i mean, this is all still about an american adversary, what's so depressing to me is we're -- people like me who are not lawyers are trying -- i'm googling "obstruction of justice." why aren't we talking about what russia did in america and other western democracies? >> there's so much else going on. it's very, very serious, nicolle. we lose sight of this within you have untruths seeping every single day from the highest office in the land. what does an autogratic leader want? a disoriented population. what's a disoriented population? it's a a population that no longer knows the difference between the truth and an untruth. this is a strategy that president trump has deliberately
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put together or whether that's just his nature and his instincts and he follows them, i'm not sure. i suspect it's the latter. but what you said earlier was very, very important. yesterday, james comey was absolutely categorical, there was russian intervention in our democratic process. it was directed from the highest offices, i.e., vladimir putin, in russia. he said this was the most unfake news that he'd ever come across. this is real. and yet, and yet, our president, for whatever reason, shows absolutely zero, zilch, interest in this. and how can there be a benign interpretation of that? i don't think there can be. it qualifies as sinister. >> yeah. >> and comey said that the reason he thought he'd been fired was for his conduct in being the man running the russia investigation. we're going to sneak in a quick break. when we come back, we're going to talk about something
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else that caught my attention. and i want to ask all of you about it. whether or not attorney general jeff sessions is in more trouble today than he was before jim comey's testimony. >> good morning. we're doing well. do you have any comments on mr. comey's testimony yesterday? >> thank you. we've done well in life, with help from our advisor, we made it through many market swings. sure we could travel, take it easy...
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pampers easy ups our first and only training underwear with an all-around stretchy waistband and pampers' superior protection so you'll see fewer leaks and they'll see their first underwear pampers easy ups, the easiest way to underwear. pampers jeff could add a lot to it, if you want to know why he recused himself, meetings he had, what he said, this and that, what we don't know, pretty much good records and everything. there's one meeting we don't and people like to know about it. >> a growing chorus calling for testimony from attorney general jeff sessions in the russia investigations. sessions is actually scheduled to sit in front of the senate appropriations committee on tuesday regarding his budget. but with so much left unknown from him, ranking democratic senator patrick leahy said russia will inevitably take a featuring role.
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our panel is back with me. amy, i want to ask you, i've heard from sources close to the president, there's been a lot of reporting on this in the last seven days, that trump views sessions' recusal from the russia investigation sort of as the original sin, if you will, the thing that led to rod rosenstein getting involved which led to rod rosenstein writing the memo that then annoyed rod rosenstein the way the white house seemed to be using it then he appointed the special counsel. so do you think that the pressure grows on sessions after trump's announcement today that he would absolutely testify in front of the special counsel under oath? does pressure build on jeff sessions to sort of take a more formal role in answering questions about his contacts with russians that he didn't disclose in his background process? >> well, that was also revealed in the hearing with mr. comey. that there may have been a third meeting that was not revealed. however, the information about that is apparently through intercepts of the russian ambassador reporting, you know, back to russia. it's not direct. there has been some investigation to find out. mr. sessions says it --
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>> you're not arguing that how we know about it is -- i mean, don't we need to know why the -- >> i mean, the question is, was the ambassador telling the truth to his higherups? was he exaggerating his relationship with jeff sessions? we don't know. there needs it be separate investigations -- >> jeff sessions recused himself from the are russia investigation. >> this is what mr. mueller is going to be looking into is, you know, is this report that we understand from an intercepted phone call true, it may not be true, and that's why we need an investigation for it. >> you had some -- >> jeff sessions is under a lot of pressure, obviously. >> you had thoughts about obstruction of justice you didn't get to make. >> certainly. i'm not a lawyer but i've been reading a lot of lawyerly analysis. there's a lot of debate, nico nicolle, about what obstruction of justice at the presidential level requires. you have professor dershowitz, professor turly from george washington university saying they don't see that there. there's the question of the president's authority to launch an investigation or end an investigation. again, that's a constitutional question that, you know, much
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smarter legal minds, i think, are going to be battling it out. >> you're plenty smart, but carrie is a legal mind. i want to bring in carrie on this. i heard lot yesterday that the legal landscape for jeff sessions became more bleak after comey's testimony yesterday because comey seemed very aware of whatever it was that precipitated the recusal from the russia investigation. what's your take? >> well, it was clear that former director comey when he testified yesterday, he indicated that there's more involved with respect to attorney general sessions and the -- and the ongoing russia investigation. what that was, he didn't say. he did sort of allude that he was going to talk more about it in closed session, which means that there's probably more on the counterintelligence side that he has to inform the senate intelligence committee. but obviously attorney general sessions needed to recuse from the russian influence investigation. he did recuse on the advice of the career ethics advisers at the department of justice and that was the right thing to do. and i would expect that the only
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questions he'll be answering about that investigation will be questions that either he's asked at some point, potentially by the special counsel, or by the senate intelligence committee in the context of their investigation. but on the obstruction point, also, i think a number of observers are looking for one particular event or act that's going to make the case for obstruction. and i would suggest that that's not necessarily the way that a potential obstruction case might be made. really, i think folks will have to look back, the investigators will look back over a series of events, meetings, conversations, tweets, the firing of director comey, and then the tweets after and more activities and it's going to be a trail of events that cumulatively will make a case for obstruction or not and that case will most likely be in the political realm, not necessarily in a criminal court. >> all right. charlie, i want to ask you about
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another one of donald trump's associates who came up yesterday in the comey testimony. that's michael flynn. i wonder if anything that the president said today basically for the first time that i can recall in public saying i never said that, i never -- really sort of denying in both his personal attorney's statements yesterday and today, really denying some of the substance for the first time of the comey mem kn memos which have sort of been in the news in the water now for several weeks. i wonder if you think that's tied at all o whto what we know, there's pretty clear bread crumbs out there suggesting mike flynn might be in some serious criminal trouble. >> well, mike flynn is facing a series of different criminal problems, potentially criminal problems. they include lying to investigators about his phone calls with russians and lying to -- on his background clearance form and to investigators reupping his
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security clearance about his trip to russia in late 2015. they include taking payments from a foreign entity, foreign government, without getting permission even though he was a retired military officer. not registering as a foreign agent and so forth. there's a whole different constellation of problems that is keeping michael flynn's lawyer very busy. that said, i do not think that president trump's denial that he told jim comey in substance or in words to drop the case against michael flynn is because there's some new information about michael flynn that is more troublesome than it was before. i think at this -- that his denial ties back to the obstruction of justice allegations that we've been discussing today and he -- they made a strategic decision or maybe, for whatever reason, they decided they're not just going to say, yeah, i said that, but it didn't mean what comey took it to mean. they're saying i didn't say that at all. they're denying the facts. if there are, indeed, no tapes
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of the conversation, it may be very difficult to prove beyond a reasonable doubt that he did say those things. >> all right. charlie savage and carrie cordero, thank you so much. we benefited greatly from your expertise. up next, how long until the russia investigation starts to erode support, if ever, within the president's loyal base? steve kornacki heads to the big board. for an exceptionally fresh feeling choose philips sonicare diamondclean. hear the difference versus oral b. in a recently published clinical study, philips sonicare diamondclean outperforms oral-b 7000, removing up to 82% more plaque and improving gum health up to 70% more. its sonic technology cleaning deep between teeth. from the most recommended sonic toothbrush brand by dental professionals. switch to philips sonicare today. philips sonicare. save when you buy now. adult 7+ promotes alertness and mental sharpness in dogs philips sonicare. 7 and older. (ray) the difference has been incredible. she is much more aware. she wants to learn things. (vo) purina pro plan bright mind. nutrition that performs.
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so there could be something of criminal aspect that did not
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have anything to do with the 2016 election cycle. >> correct. sometimes you find things that are unrelated to the primary investigation that are criminal in nature. >> it sounds really bad but the truth that this president may ever said that he could walk out on fifth avenue and shoot people and his basis still with him. here to answer this question, steve cornacki. one here overall, this is the presidential's approval number at 37% nch. what gives republicans pause when they look at this number is this, trump's number right now as president is basically floated between 35% and 45% on the good day. it is towards the low end right now. what politicians remember that during the campaign when it was
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trump verses clinton, his number support were right in that range. these were never numbers and he can never win and he's a sore lose sr in november. that's going to give republicans pause about bolting. look at donald trump's approval rating with his own party with the republican base compares to how presidents' parties. >> bush, he was 87% and president obama in 89%. >> bill clinton had a disaster first six months in office, first two years in office o of '93 and '94. right now if you are a republican, you are saying hey, the party is still with him and the numbers, in the campaign last year >> all i can pull away from the
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blinking wall. i hope that your eyes are okay. i want to read you something. he said my lesson from those days, trump's advisers are way over their head. despite the fact that the base is holding strong or steve suggests or the range of normal and what we put in parenthesis these days. is there anything to suggest that base could be turned off by anything he does? >> it gives the democratic start with a different narrative. the narrative will go towards what he said. they are letting the, quote, "enemies," coming in and polluting our elections. let mueller takes care of that. go and win and risk your lives so these people can come in and
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really intercept what's going on in elections in our country. >> why are democrats doing that? >> we are running around letting him set what kind of way to fight. the way to fight him is to come not on the ground but fight him from the air of different fights. you are under minding democracy, you are in many ways doing what we are trying to do from what we are trying to protect you around the world from having done. they are letting him go everyday on donald trumpism. i think we got to get away from that. >> these political wars, james comey who a lot of democrats are angry after hillary clinton, he made the argument by saying they are coming for us. >> why is there this sort of break on donald trump's refusal to engage on the behavior of
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russians. it would get him off of his own scandals and unite the republicans behind him in a way that's more comfortable than trumpism as you suggest as we talk day in and day out. >> so much noise out there and the president manages to generate all that noise so it is hard to focus on anyone subject. this is not over. i think i was in colorado and i support for the president is very strong. we see and i see a series of lies emanating from the oval office. they see the most honest president we have ever had. >> he's doing exactly what he's saying he would do. he's sticking on the world paris accord. they're happy about it. people are looking at their 4
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401-ks. well, the economy is doing okay. a breaking point may come if that stops, if the economy turns. right now with his base, he's doing pretty well, even though what has happened with russians. it is absolutely scandalous, i thought comey made that point very powerful yesterday. it is time that congress got serious about it. >> as a political issue, it may play to those voters but it is not playing to -- >> is it a national security? >> it is a national security issue. both parties need to be presenting a positive, forward agenda. >> let me finish with this and where donald trump, the big danger for him is how much the
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russian investigation and the scandal and the cloud around it interferes and impedes him being able to advance that agenda. >> do you think he wakes up every morning wondering what is mr. mueller is doing today and what is he getting on? >> well, there is a lot -- any rational -- >> the problem is we should be waking up every morning worried about mueller, we should be talking about russia and voting, we should not let him set the agenda. let him worry about it. >> hang on, hang on. steve. >> one thing on the political potency, here is the problem with the focus on russia. you have hillary clinton, like her or not, she's a polarizing figure, when she's out there saying hey, if not for russia or
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wikileaks, i am the president of the united states, that takes voters that democrats are trying to win over those. trump voters rejected hillary clint clinton. if not for russia, i am the president because that repo repo -- re-polarizes the election. >> obamacare and reforms and all these kinds of things. if that agenda gets the brakes thrown on because of all the attention that's going on here. >> steve, let me give you the last word on today's breaking news of the president agreeing to testify under oath. what do you think republicans are doing? >> they are doing everything in the last year, they have been in this situation so many times with donald trump. think back when ""access
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hollywood" tape came out. how many of this that we had of what do i do? they have asked this question so many times. >> perfect last words. thank you to my pal. steve cornacki and robert hol y? >> all the twitter hates go to you and not me. >> happy weekend. if it is friday, the president is ready to the. >> tonight no obstruction, no collusion. president trump denies james comey's allegations and says, he will swear to that. he says those things under oath, would you be willing to speak under oath and


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